US Navy’s NSWC White Sands Detachment starts testing electromagnetic railgun

Engineers and technicians at the US Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division’s (NSWC PHD) White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) Detachment have begun testing an electromagnetic railgun (EMRG).

Illustration. Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) at terminal range located at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). Source: US Navy

The test, that commenced on May 15, was the first firing series of the newly installed weapon at the site. Subsequent tests will be scheduled, including the post-performance data analysis, to advance the weapon’s commissioning.

“The installation of the railgun began earlier this year and required a large effort for the mount, gun, power controls, displays and functional ties into the range,” Site Manager John Winstead said.

“The object of the test was essentially a shakedown of the newly-installed mount with accompanying power containers, controls and a fully functional execution team.”

A total of four rounds were fired with full diagnostics and verification. Initial estimated test dates were reduced from three to two days due to the success of the firings.

“The tests were very successful and alleviated the need to have further installation and check-out testing required for verification,” Winstead added.

As explained, EMRG is viewed as an innovative warfighting capability fulfilling the navy’s requirement for a long-range, multi-mission weapon. The gun was moved to WSMR to conduct more advanced testing at an optimal range capacity.

Collateral achievements during initial research, development and testing of the weapon system have resulted in the hyper-velocity, precision-guided projectile designed for the railgun to be operationally viable in other weapons, such as the navy’s 5-inch, 155mm, and other guns, according to NSWC.